Kerala Minerals raises titanium dioxide output by 25 pct

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Feb 11 2014, 10:38am hrs
Monopoly producer of pigment-grade titanium dioxide Kerala Minerals and Metals (KMML) has ramped up the output of its flagship product by 25% to 25,000 tonne in the first nine months of the 2013-14 fiscal.

In the corresponding period of the previous year, the company's titanium dioxide production was 20,000 tonne per annum.

KMML is the worlds only fully-integrated unit consisting of mineral separation, titanium dioxide and titanium sponge manufacturing facilities. The Rs 700-crore KMML is also the top profit-maker in Kerala's fleet of PSUs.

"The production stride was made as part of the company's long-term target of hitting production of 60,000 tonne per annum, a spokesman for the Kollam-based company told FE.

The capacity expansion drive is also expected to address the issue of high fixed costs in existing operations, though shortage in raw material was a major issue.

The quantity of ilmenite, feed material, from the mineral separation unit was not enough to meet the overall requirement of titanium dioxide pigment unit.

KMML had received an order from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) for supplying aerospace-grade metal for research purposes.

"Diversification has also been paying off well as the titanium sponge unit, which started operations in October 2011, had so far produced 194 tonne. This product currently commands nearly Rs 20 crore a tonne in the market," KMML managing director Micheal Vetha Shiromani said.

Since the new plant was set up, in tie-up with VSSC and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, India has become the seventh country to harness technology to produce titanium sponge.

The company is likely to go for diversification and capacity expansion in the titanium sponge unit too. While magnesium recovery facilities will be added to the titanium sponge plant, the capacity is also likely to be stepped up to 1,000 tonne.

KMML has notched a record turnover of Rs 490.51 crore during the nine-month period from April to December 2013, exceeding by far a turnover of Rs 359 crore registered during the same period the previous year, according to the company's spokesman.

In the last two years, its profit has been hovering in the Rs 150-180 crore range. Given the growing international demand for pigment-grade titanium dioxide and titanium sponge, the unit will have to maximise its raw material procurement drive to keep the bottomline in the pink.